China 1999China

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China - Introduction 1999
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Background: For most of its 3,500 years of history, China led the world in agriculture, crafts, and science, then fell behind in the 19th century when the Industrial Revolution gave the West clear superiority in military and economic affairs. In the first half of the 20th century, China continued to suffer from major famines, civil unrest, military defeat, and foreign occupation. After World War II, the Communists under MAO Zedong established a dictatorship that, while ensuring China's autonomy, imposed strict controls over all aspects of life and cost the lives of tens of millions of people. After 1978, his successor DENG Xiaoping decentralized economic decision making; output quadrupled in the next 20 years. Political controls remain tight at the same time economic controls have been weakening. Present issues are:incorporating Hong Kong into the Chinese system; closing down inefficient state-owned enterprises; modernizing the military; fighting corruption; and providing support to tens of millions of displaced workers.

China - Geography 1999
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Location: Eastern Asia, bordering the East China Sea, Korea Bay, Yellow Sea, and South China Sea, between North Korea and Vietnam

Geographic coordinates: 35 00 N, 105 00 E

Map referenceAsia

Total: 9,596,960 km²
Land: 9,326,410 km²
Water: 270,550 km²
Comparative: slightly smaller than the US

Land boundaries
Total: 22,143.34 km
Border countries: (16) Afghanistan 76 km; , Bhutan 470 km; , Burma 2,185 km; , Hong Kong 30 km; , India 3,380 km; , Kazakhstan 1,533 km; , North Korea 1,416 km; , Kyrgyzstan 858 km; , Laos 423 km; , Macau 0.34 km; , Mongolia 4,673 km; , Nepal 1,236 km; , Pakistan 523 km; , Russia (northeast) 3,605 km; , Russia (northwest) 40 km; , Tajikistan 414 km; , Vietnam 1,281 km

Coastline: 14,500 km

Maritime claims
Contiguous zone: 24 nm
Continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
Territorial sea: 12 nm

Climate: extremely diverse; tropical in south to subarctic in north

Terrain: mostly mountains, high plateaus, deserts in west; plains, deltas, and hills in east

Extremes lowest point: Turpan Pendi -154 m
Extremes highest point: Mount Everest 8,848 m

Natural resources: coal, iron ore, petroleum, natural gas, mercury, tin, tungsten, antimony, manganese, molybdenum, vanadium, magnetite, aluminum, lead, zinc, uranium, hydropower potential (world's largest)
Land use

Land use
Arable land: 10%
Permanent crops: 0%
Permanent pastures: 43%
Forests and woodland: 14%
Other: 33% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 498,720 km² (1993 est.)

Major rivers

Major watersheds area km²

Total water withdrawal

Total renewable water resources

Natural hazards: frequent typhoons (about five per year along southern and eastern coasts; damaging floods; tsunamis; earthquakes; droughts

Note: world's fourth-largest country (after Russia, Canada, and US)

China - People 1999
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Population: 1,246,871,951 (July 1999 est.)
Growth rate: 0.77% (1999 est.)
Below poverty line: NA%

Noun: Chinese (singular and plural)
Adjective: Chinese

Ethnic groups: Han Chinese 91.9%, Zhuang, Uygur, Hui, Yi, Tibetan, Miao, Manchu, Mongol, Buyi, Korean, and other nationalities 8.1%

Languages: Standard Chinese or Mandarin (Putonghua, based on the Beijing dialect), Yue (Cantonese), Wu (Shanghaiese), Minbei (Fuzhou), Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese), Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects, minority languages (see Ethnic divisions entry)

Religions: Daoism (Taoism), Buddhism, Muslim 2%-3%, Christian 1% (est.)
Note: officially atheist, but traditionally pragmatic and eclectic

Demographic profile
Age structure

Age structure
0-14 years: 26% (male 169,206,275; female 149,115,216)
15-64 years: 68% (male 435,047,915; female 408,663,265)
65 years and over: 6% (male 39,824,361; female 45,014,919) (1999 est.)

Dependency ratios

Median age

Population growth rate: 0.77% (1999 est.)

Birth rate: 15.1 births/1000 population (1999 est.)

Death rate: 6.98 deaths/1000 population (1999 est.)

Net migration rate: -0.41 migrant(s)/1000 population (1999 est.)

Population distribution


Major urban areas

Current issues: air pollution (greenhouse gases, sulfur dioxide particulates) from reliance on coal, produces acid rain; water shortages, particularly in the north; water pollution from untreated wastes; deforestation; estimated loss of one-fifth of agricultural land since 1949 to soil erosion and economic development; desertification; trade in endangered species
International agreements party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
International agreements signed but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Nuclear Test Ban

Air pollutants

Sex ratio
At birth: 1.15 male(s)/female
Under 15 years: 1.13 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.88 male(s)/female
Total population: 1.07 male(s)/female (1999 est.)

Mothers mean age at first birth

Maternal mortality ratio

Infant mortality rate: 43.31 deaths/1000 live births (1999 est.)

Life expectancy at birth
Total population: 69.92 years
Male: 68.57 years
Female: 71.48 years (1999 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.8 children born/woman (1999 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

Drinking water source

Current health expenditure

Physicians density

Hospital bed density

Sanitation facility access


Major infectious diseases

Obesity adult prevalence rate

Alcohol consumption

Tobacco use

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

Education expenditures

Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 81.5%
Male: 89.9%
Female: 72.7% (1995 est.)

School life expectancy primary to tertiary education

Youth unemployment

China - Government 1999
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Country name
Conventional long form: People's Republic of China
Conventional short form: China
Local long form: Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo
Local short form: Zhong Guo
Abbreviation: PRC

Government type: Communist state

Capital: Beijing

Administrative divisions: 23 provinces (sheng, singular and plural), 5 autonomous regions* (zizhiqu, singular and plural), and 4 municipalities** (shi, singular and plural); Anhui, Beijing**, Chongqing**, Fujian, Gansu, Guangdong, Guangxi*, Guizhou, Hainan, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Jilin, Liaoning, Nei Mongol*, Ningxia*, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanghai**, Shanxi, Sichuan, Tianjin**, Xinjiang*, Xizang* (Tibet), Yunnan, Zhejiang
Note: China considers Taiwan its 23rd province; see separate entry for the special administrative region of Hong Kong

Dependent areas

Independence: 221 BC (unification under the Qin or Ch'in Dynasty 221 BC; Qing or Ch'ing Dynasty replaced by the Republic on 12 February 1912; People's Republic established 1 October 1949)

National holiday: National Day, 1 October (1949)

Constitution: most recent promulgation 4 December 1982

Legal system: a complex amalgam of custom and statute, largely criminal law; rudimentary civil code in effect since 1 January 1987; new legal codes in effect since 1 January 1980; continuing efforts are being made to improve civil, administrative, criminal, and commercial law

International law organization participation


Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch
Chief of state: President JIANG Zemin (since 27 March 1993) and Vice President HU Jintao (since 16 March 1998)
Head of government: Premier ZHU Rongji (since 18 March 1998); Vice Premiers QIAN Qichen (since 29 March 1993), LI Lanqing (29 March 1993), WU Bangguo (since 17 March 1995), and WEN Jiabao (since 18 March 1998)
Cabinet: State Council appointed by the National People's Congress (NPC)
Elections: president and vice president elected by the National People's Congress for five-year terms; elections last held 16-18 March 1998 (next to be held NA March 2003); premier nominated by the president, confirmed by the National People's Congress
Election results: JIANG Zemin reelected president by the Ninth National People's Congress with a total of 2,882 votes (36 delegates voted against him, 29 abstained, and 32 did not vote); HU Jintao elected vice president by the Ninth National People's Congress with a total of 2,841 votes (67 delegates voted against him, 39 abstained, and 32 did not vote)

Legislative branch: unicameral National People's Congress or Quanguo Renmin Daibiao Dahui (2,979 seats; members elected by municipal, regional, and provincial people's congresses to serve five-year terms)
Elections: last held NA December-NA February 1998 (next to be held late 2002-NA March 2003)
Election results: percent of vote_NA; seats_NA

Judicial branch: Supreme People's Court, judges appointed by the National People's Congress

Political parties and leaders

International organization participation: AfDB, APEC, AsDB, BIS, CCC, CDB (non-regional), ESCAP, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ISO, ITU, LAIA (observer), MINURSO, NAM (observer), OPCW, PCA, UN, UN Security Council, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIKOM, UNITAR, UNOMSIL, UNTSO, UNU, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO (applicant)

Diplomatic representation
In the us chief of mission: Ambassador LI Zhaoxing
In the us chancery: 2,300 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20,008
In the us telephone: [1] (202) 328-2,500
In the us consulates general: Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco
From the us chief of mission: Ambassador James R. SASSER
From the us embassy: Xiu Shui Bei Jie 3, 100,600 Beijing
From the us mailing address: PSC 461, Box 50, FPO AP 96,521-0002
From the us telephone: [86] (10) 6,532-3,831
From the us FAX: [86] (10) 6,532-6,422
From the us consulates general: Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Shenyang

Flag descriptionflag of China: red with a large yellow five-pointed star and four smaller yellow five-pointed stars (arranged in a vertical arc toward the middle of the flag) in the upper hoist-side corner

National symbols

National anthem

National heritage

China - Economy 1999
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Economy overview: Beginning in late 1978 the Chinese leadership has been trying to move the economy from a sluggish Soviet-style centrally planned economy to a more market-oriented economy but still within a rigid political framework of Communist Party control. To this end the authorities switched to a system of household responsibility in agriculture in place of the old collectivization, increased the authority of local officials and plant managers in industry, permitted a wide variety of small-scale enterprise in services and light manufacturing, and opened the economy to increased foreign trade and investment. The result has been a quadrupling of GDP since 1978. Agricultural output doubled in the 1980s, and industry also posted major gains, especially in coastal areas near Hong Kong and opposite Taiwan, where foreign investment helped spur output of both domestic and export goods. On the darker side, the leadership has often experienced in its hybrid system the worst results of socialism (bureaucracy, lassitude, corruption) and of capitalism (windfall gains and stepped-up inflation). Beijing thus has periodically backtracked, retightening central controls at intervals. In late 1993 China's leadership approved additional long-term reforms aimed at giving still more play to market-oriented institutions and at strengthening the center's control over the financial system; state enterprises would continue to dominate many key industries in what was now termed "a socialist market economy". In 1995-97 inflation dropped sharply, reflecting tighter monetary policies and stronger measures to control food prices. At the same time, the government struggled to (a) collect revenues due from provinces, businesses, and individuals; (b) reduce corruption and other economic crimes; and (c) keep afloat the large state-owned enterprises, most of which had not participated in the vigorous expansion of the economy and many of which had been losing the ability to pay full wages and pensions. From 60 to 100 million surplus rural workers are adrift between the villages and the cities, many subsisting through part-time low-paying jobs. Popular resistance, changes in central policy, and loss of authority by rural cadres have weakened China's population control program, which is essential to maintaining growth in living standards. Another long-term threat to continued rapid economic growth is the deterioration in the environment, notably air pollution, soil erosion, and the steady fall of the water table especially in the north. China continues to lose arable land: because of erosion and economic development. The next few years may witness increasing tensions between a highly centralized political system and an increasingly decentralized economic system. Economic growth probably will slow to more moderate levels in 1999-2000.

Real gdp purchasing power parity

Real gdp growth rate: 7.8% (1998 est.) (official figures may substantially overstate growth)

Real gdp per capita ppp

Gross national saving
Gdp composition by sector of origin

Gdp composition by end use

Gdp composition by sector of origin
Agriculture: 19%
Industry: 49%
Services: 32% (1997 est.)

Agriculture products: rice, wheat, potatoes, sorghum, peanuts, tea, millet, barley, cotton, oilseed; pork; fish

Industries: iron and steel, coal, machine building, armaments, textiles and apparel, petroleum, cement, chemical fertilizers, footwear, toys, food processing, autos, consumer electronics, telecommunications

Industrial production growth rate: 8.8% (1998 est.)

Labor force: 696 million (1997 est.)
By occupation agriculture: 50%
By occupation industry: 24%
By occupation services: 26% (1997)
Labor force

Unemployment rate: officially 3% in urban areas; probably 8%-10%; substantial unemployment and underemployment in rural areas (1998 est.)

Youth unemployment

Population below poverty line: NA%

Gini index

Household income or consumption by percentage share

Distribution of family income gini index

Revenues: $N/A
Expenditures: $N/A, including capital expenditures of $N/A

Public debt

Taxes and other revenues


Fiscal year: calendar year

Current account balance

Inflation rate consumer prices

Central bank discount rate

Commercial bank prime lending rate

Stock of narrow money

Stock of broad money

Stock of domestic credit

Market value of publicly traded shares

Current account balance

Exports: $183.8 billion (f.o.b., 1998)
Commodities: electrical machinery and equipment, machinery and mechanical appliances, woven apparel, knit apparel, footwear, toys and sporting goods (1998)
Partners: Hong Kong 21%, US 21%, Japan 14%, Germany, South Korea, Netherlands, UK, Singapore, Taiwan (1997)

Imports: $140.17 billion (c.i.f., 1998)
Commodities: electrical machinery and equipment, machinery and mechanical appliances, plastics, iron and steel, scientific and photograph equipment, paper and paper board (1998)
Partners: Japan 20%, US 12%, Taiwan 12%, South Korea 11%, Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore, Russia (1997)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

Debt external: $159 billion (1998 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment at home

Stock of direct foreign investment abroad

Exchange rates: yuan (¥) per US$1_8.28 (February 1999), 8.2779 (December 1998), 8.2790 (1998), 8.2898 (1997), 8.3142 (1996), 8.3514 (1995), 8.6187 (1994)
Note: beginning 1 January 1994, the People's Bank of China quotes the midpoint rate against the US dollar based on the previous day's prevailing rate in the interbank foreign exchange market

China - Energy 1999
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Electricity access

Electricity production: 1.16 trillion kWh (1998)
By source fossil fuel: 93%
By source hydro: 6%
By source nuclear: 1%
By source other: 0% (1996 est.)

Electricity consumption: 994.921 billion kWh (1996)

Electricity exports: 6.025 billion kWh (1996)

Electricity imports: 755 million kWh (1996)

Electricity installed generating capacity

Electricity transmission distribution losses

Electricity generation sources


Refined petroleum

Natural gas

Carbon dioxide emissions

Energy consumption per capita

China - Communication 1999
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Telephones fixed lines

Telephones mobile cellular

Telephone system: domestic and international services are increasingly available for private use; unevenly distributed domestic system serves principal cities, industrial centers, and all townships
Domestic: interprovincial fiber-optic trunk lines and cellular telephone systems have been installed; a domestic satellite system with 55 earth stations is in place
International: satellite earth stations_5 Intelsat (4 Pacific Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean), 1 Intersputnik (Indian Ocean Region) and 1 Inmarsat (Pacific and Indian Ocean Regions); several international fiber-optic links to Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Russia, and Germany

Broadcast media

Internet country code

Internet users

Broadband fixed subscriptions

China - Military 1999
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Military expenditures
Dollar figure: $12.608 billion (FY99; note-Western analysts believe that China's real defense spending is several times higher than the official figure because several significant items are funded elsewhere
Percent of gdp: NA%

Military and security forces

Military service age and obligation

Terrorist groups

China - Transportation 1999
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National air transport system

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

Airports: 206 (1996 est.)
With paved runways total: 192
With paved runways over 3047 m: 18
With paved runways 2438 to 3047 m: 65
With paved runways 15-24 to 2437 m: 90
With paved runways 914 to 1523 m: 13
With paved runways under 914 m: 6 (1996 est.)
With unpaved runways total: 14
With unpaved runways 15-24 to 2437 m: 8
With unpaved runways 914 to 1523 m: 5
With unpaved runways under 914 m: 1 (1996 est.)

Airports with paved runways
Total: 192
Over 3047 m: 18
2438 to 3047 m: 65
15-24 to 2437 m: 90
914 to 1523 m: 13
Under 914 m: 6 (1996 est.)

Airports with unpaved runways
Total: 14
15-24 to 2437 m: 8
914 to 1523 m: 5
Under 914 m: 1 (1996 est.)


Pipelines: crude oil 9,070 km; petroleum products 560 km; natural gas 9,383 km (1998)

Total: 64,900 km (including 5,400 km of provincial "local" rails)
Standard gauge: 61,300 km 1.435-m gauge (12,000 km electrified; 20,000 km double track)
Narrow gauge: 3,600 km 0.750-m gauge local industrial lines (1998 est.)
Note: a new total of 68,000 km has been estimated for early 1999


Waterways: 109,800 km navigable (1997)

Merchant marine
Total: 1,759 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 16,828,349 GRT/24,801,291 DWT
Ships by type: barge carrier 2, bulk 330, cargo 855, chemical tanker 21, combination bulk 10, combination ore/oil 1, container 121, liquefied gas tanker 20, multifunction large-load carrier 6, oil tanker 245, passenger 8, passenger-cargo 47, refrigerated cargo 25, roll-on/roll-off cargo 24, short-sea passenger 43, vehicle carrier 1 (1998 est.)

Ports and terminals

China - Transnational issues 1999
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Disputes international: boundary with India in dispute; dispute over at least two small sections of the boundary with Russia remain to be settled, despite 1997 boundary agreement; most of the boundary with Tajikistan in dispute; 33-km section of boundary with North Korea in the Paektu-san (mountain) area is indefinite; involved in a complex dispute over the Spratly Islands with Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, and possibly Brunei; maritime boundary dispute with Vietnam in the Gulf of Tonkin; Paracel Islands occupied by China, but claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan; claims Japanese-administered Senkaku-shoto (Senkaku Islands/Diaoyu Tai), as does Taiwan; sections of land border with Vietnam are indefinite

Refugees and internally displaced persons

Illicit drugs: major transshipment point for heroin produced in the Golden Triangle; growing domestic drug abuse problem


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